The Invention Of Modern Whipped Cream Led To A Legal War

Whipped cream has existed for centuries, typically under the names cream snow or crème chantilly.

However, one of the cream supplies that made whipped cream accessible to a much wider group of people is the development of pressurised sprayable whipped cream, which could be stored at home and dispensed at will.

The technology behind it relies on nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas, which bubbles up in the cream once dispensed and creates the light, soft, foamy dessert-topping favourite.

However, determining the person who actually invented the technique was so difficult it led to a decades-long legal battle.

The problem was caused by two patents, both granted within a month of each other.

Charles Getz had worked closely with George Frederick Smith on work to create foams out of expanding pressurised gas, eventually filing a patent for the use of nitrous oxide in making whipped cream and other food products out of it.

The problem was that a month beforehand, Marshall Reinecke filed a very similar patent for an aerated food product device, claiming that he had accidentally invented the idea back in 1929 when experimenting with carbon dioxide for the same purpose.

This led to over ten years of patent lawsuits, appeals and some exceptionally bizarre legal claims, such as trying to explain the appearance of a 1934 watermark on a document allegedly produced in 1929.

Initially, Mr Reinecke seemed to have gotten his wish, as several of Mr Getz’s patents were thrown out. However, after an appeal in 1952, this decision was overturned and Mr Getz would receive his patents.

It was a legal conflict as bitter as the carbon dioxide whipped cream would have been, but all three men involved in this dispute have been credited as the inventors of instant whipped cream, and with the patents involved having long expired, the legal battles have since stopped as well.